Where to find the Best Cheap and Free Parking in DC

 In Travel Tips, USA

One of the trickiest things to figure out when you are visiting the nation’s capital is where to find cheap or free parking in DC. Often times you need overnight parking in Washington, DC, which can be even harder to find at a good price.

Hotels charge a premium fee to self-park or valet your car. Public garages aren’t usually much better, but there are a few exceptions.

But why on earth wouldn’t you want to have your car with you at all times when you visit Washington, DC? Well, I’ll tell you.

Washington, DC is very walkable, bike-able and has a decent transportation system. Hourly parking can also break your budget and be painful to find, even on quiet weekends. Park the car and get used to alternative transport.

PARKING IN DC during your WASHINGTON DC TRIP: Stop paying ridiculous fees and find the best cheap and free parking in DC when you come to visit the nation's capital. Whether you want to be in the city or are OK parking a little farther away, this is your guide to the city's parking system. #washingtondc #dctrip #traveltips

Free Parking in DC

Parking is free in DC on Sundays and major holidays, but you can’t always count on your travel falling on those dates. That meter you just pulled up to might actually work outside the normal schedule too.

DC parking laws are some of the strangest in the land, and this town sure likes to get its’ money.

Lucky for you, there are a few free parking options, and even more cheap parking spots in DC. It’s time to learn your way around the DC parking system.

Parking in DCCheap DC Parking Apps

Start downloading. These are the apps you will fall in love with when you want to park your car in a pinch. Parking Panda is our favorite because we can map out exactly where we want to park based on where we are staying or what museum we are visiting. The others are perfect for overnight visits as well.

  • SpotHero
  • Parking Panda
  • ParkMe
  • Parkopedia

Don’t forget to grab our FREE
 Washington DC Apps guide

Parking in DC

Book Online and Save on DC Parking Fees

Many apps and DC parking garages will give you a discounted rate if you book online. Parking Panda, is one app that can get you discounts, even if you prepay as you pull into the garage. I’ve done this many times as we figure out where we want to eat on our way into the city.

Overnight Parking at Metro Stations

There are only four metro stops that allow overnight parking at their stations: Greenbelt, Huntington, Franconia-Springfield, and Wiehle-Reston East. Only 15 to 17 spaces are allocated for multi-day use of up to 10 days. You can not reserve a spot; you simply show up and hope one is there. Regular day rates apply. There is no additional fee for parking overnight, which is a really nice perk.

  • Greenbelt
  • Huntington
  • Franconia-Springfield
  • Wiehle-Reston East
Parking in DC

Photo via Wikicommons

Long Term Parking in Park and Ride Lots

The Washington DC metro area has over 300 Park & Ride lots so local residents can carpool, hop in van pools or take the bus to work. You can leave your car in these lots overnight, but it is at your own risk. Do not leave valuables in your car, and give a good look around the neighborhood. Some are safer than others.

Park NEAR a DC Metro Station and Ride In

While not every metro station allows overnight parking, some parking companies like Colonial Parking and Laz Parking have set up shop close to Metro Stations so you can park for a flat fee and ride the Metro into downtown Washington, DC. Both companies also have garages in the city if you want to try your luck a bit closer to your hotel, but not pay the hotel up charge for valet.

Amtrak with Kids

Take Amtrak

While you won’t want to park at DC’s Union Station, there are several Amtrak stations just outside of downtown Washington, D.C. that offer overnight parking to passengers. Park in an overnight spot at any Amtrak station outside of DC and take the train into town. Fees do apply, but they are often less than a hotel valet charge.

Grab our guide to
riding Amtrak with Kids

Parking in DC

Get to know someone in DC or the DC Suburbs

There are more free two-hour parking spots in and around DC than we can count, unless of course you have a residential permit. That permit gets you unlimited parking within your zone.

So, if you plan to visit DC often, it’s time for you to get to know the DC locals.

Almost every resident can apply for a parking permit, which also comes with a visitor’s pass. Call me crazy, but I love that I can park my car at my house and walk to the metro station five blocks away. All of my friends and family love this perk as well. This is by far the cheapest way to park in the area. Actually, it’s the best free parking in DC.

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